- Terelle Jerricks
SAN PEDRO – On March 7, The Los Angeles Harbor Commission certified the final Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Southern California International Gateway intermodal railyard.
The near-dock rail container transfer facility represents a private investment of more than $500 million by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, which plans to develop and operate the nation’s greenest intermodal rail yard on a 185-acre site approximately four miles north of the San Pedro Bay port complex.
The project is expected to reduce truck traffic, freeway congestion and air pollution by eliminating about 1.3 million truck trips annually along a 24-mile stretch of the Long Beach (710) Freeway to BNSF’s Hobart Yard near downtown Los Angeles.
Construction is due to begin later this year and create 1,500 direct and indirect jobs per year within three years. Expected to open in 2016, SCIG would generate up to 1,096 long-term jobs at full capacity.
The action sets the stage for construction of the intermodal rail facility designed to help meet containerized cargo volumes. Initially, SCIG is expected to handle about 570,800 TEUs (20-foot containers). By 2035, SCIG is projected to handle a maximum of 2.8 million TEUs.
As a hub for building trains bound for specific destinations throughout the country, SCIG promises to offer shippers, carriers and terminal operators expanded Class 1 railroad options for getting products to consumers more competitively. High-tech logistics systems would maximize trucking operations by reducing turn times, one-way trips and emissions.
Construction and operation of the facility would be subject to stringent environmental controls. Key operational features include:
- SCIG would use only the cleanest available switching and long-haul locomotives and phase in the future generation of Tier 4 locomotives when the equipment becomes commercially available.
- SCIG would deploy all electric-powered rail mounted gantry cranes and low-emissions yard equipment to handle cargo.
- All trucks serving SCIG must meet or exceed 2007 federal on-road low-emission engine standards, and 90 percent of the drayage fleet must be LNG-fueled or meet equivalent emissions standards by 2026.
- Trucks must use designated routes to avoid residential neighborhoods and will be monitored by GPS units as a condition of all drayage contracts.
- BNSF would match port contributions of up to $3 million to advance the commercial development of zero emissions technologies that eliminate air pollution from port-related operations.
- SCIG would use low-glare lighting, intensive landscaping and automation to maximize productivity while minimizing operational impacts on neighboring communities.
The Port would track and enforce environmental controls through a combination of project conditions, mitigation measures and lease requirements identified in the final EIR. The requirements will be incorporated into the terms of a 50-year lease. Conditions for the proposed project are consistent with regional, state and federal transportation and air quality plans and objectives.
The Harbor Commission on amended language in a project condition to require that BNSF shall implement new zero-emission technologies after the Harbor Commissions of both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach determine it is technically, operationally and commercially feasible. The Harbor Commission also amended an EIR mitigation measure to require BNSF to implement other emission reduction technology after it becomes technically, operationally and commercially feasible.
LB Appeals Railyard Project Approval
LONG BEACH — On March 14, the City of Long Beach formally appealed a decision by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners to approve a new railyard adjacent to Long Beach.
The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to appeal the commissioners’ decision noting impacts of neighboring communities.
The Southern California International Gateway Project proposed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe calls for a new intermodal railyard that would transfer containerized cargo between trucks and railcars about 4 miles to the north of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This is primarily on City of Los Angeles Harbor Department land and is adjacent to the city’s west side, between Pacific Coast Highway and the Willow Street.
The city’s appeal states that: “The grounds for this appeal are that the Board of Harbor Commissioners did not proceed in the manner required by law, abused its discretion, and violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to comply with CEQA’s requirements. Despite the written and oral comments of the City of Long Beach and other interested individuals and agencies (including the Air Quality Management District), the FEIR, as certified, included numerous deficiencies and, moreover, failed to adequately address the potential impacts of the SCIG Project on the City of Long Beach, its residents and businesses. In addition, the mitigation measures included in the Final EIR fail to adequately reduce project impacts to an acceptable level, and do not adequately protect neighborhoods and the sensitive receptors that will be impacted by the Project.”
Long Beach has objected to the project’s lack of appropriate mitigation measures to protect the residents and businesses in the immediate area, including the lack of zero emission trucks to transport cargo, the absence of a buffer zone between industrial uses and neighborhoods and mitigation measures for individual homes, and the dislocation of 4 companies with more than 1,500 employees who will be terminated.